Kalki Koechlin about her Sacred Games character: ‘I was given the reference of Maa Anand Sheela but they’re different’
Actor Kalki Koechlin has said that even though there are obvious parallels between her character in the second season of Netflix’s Sacred Games and the controversial real-life figure Maa Anand Sheela, she thinks ‘there are a lot of differences’ between the two.
“When I auditioned for this character, I was given the reference of Maa Anand Sheela,” Kalki told Hindustan Times, “however, that was only because I was given one scene. I didn’t have the entire graph for the story.”
The actor plays the enigmatic Batya Abelman in season two of the hit series. The character doesn’t exist in author Vikram Chandra’s source novel, and is one of the many examples of how showrunner Vikramaditya Motwane has diverted from the book. Batya is a sort of second-in-command to the mysterious Guruji, played by Pankaj Tripathi.
Maa Anand Sheela enjoyed a similar position at the spiritual leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s ashram in the US, before their relationship soured and she fled to Switzerland. Sheela was accused, and convicted, of attempted murder after a 1984 incident in which she got Osho’s followers to poison food at several restaurants in Oregon. This story was famously portrayed in the Netflix documentary series, Wild Wild Country.
“I don’t think she is Maa Anand Sheela in the final show,” Kalki continued. “I think there are a lot of differences. Of course, the fact that there is an ashram... But yeah, it’s a little different.” Like Sheela, Batya comes ‘from a very rebellious background, when she was a teenager’ Kalki said.
Batya will be seen in both the Ganesh Gaitonde and Sartaj Singh timelines in Sacred Games, which puts Kalki in the unique position of having worked with both Anurag Kashyap and Neeraj Ghaywan. “It was interesting because they both directed a part of the story which suited their personalities,” she said about the experience. “Anurag was shooting the Gaitonde portions and the Guruji portions, which were more chaotic, and Neeraj’s portions were set in the present day, with Sartaj. And Sartaj’s character is a cop, and he’s sort of safe and straightforward.”
Sacred Games will return for its second season on August 15. Meanwhile, actor Priyanka Chopra will produce and star in a film about Sheela, directed by Barry Levinson. There were also rumours of Alia Bhatt playing the controversial figure in a film about Osho, reportedly starring Aamir Khan.